To get you started, here’s a super simple Harissa marinated lamb with your foraged wild garlic pesto and heritage tomato salad from our very own Exec Chef Matt Sullivan.
If you’re new to foraging, wild garlic is a great place to start as it’s easy to identify and an extremely versatile ingredient to use in the kitchen.
From March until June wild garlic is growing in abundance in most British woodlands and riverbanks. Prime in sunny and damp patches of ground, once you’ve found a growth spot you’ll find handfuls of it to use right throughout spring.
There are a few ground rules (pun excused) with foraging that we should draw your attention to, just to ensure complete safety.
- Please never consume anything you’ve foraged if you’re not entirely sure of its identity. For example, wild garlic looks very similar to Lily of the valley which is poisonous, however you can easily tell the difference by the scent as Lily of the valley surprisingly doesn’t smell like garlic.
- Never over pick a spot. If a spot is picked too much, the plant will not recover and won’t regrow next season. Remember nature needs the plants for itself too, animals rely on a lot of plants that have become popular for foraging.
- Never trespass. Always seek permission from landowners where relevant before foraging on private land.
To identify the plant, here are a few points to look for:
- long, broad, grass green, flat leaves. Typically 8-10 leaves per stem. Little white flower pods will only start to appear from mid April.
- As mentioned previously, the giveaway sign when foraging for wild garlic in particular is the smell. It’s hefty distinctive scent can sometimes be wafted 5-10 metres from a patch that’s been disturbed recently, whether by rain or another forager. Once found simply rub a leaf between your fingers and you can immediately enjoy the strong aromatic parfums de garlic.
Once you’ve got your garlic home, be sure to wash thoroughly and treat it like any soft herb, store in the fridge in a food container with damp kitchen roll on both sides, and use it within 3-4 days.
There are thousands of recipes for using your wild garlic, from pestos to soups, breads or tossed through salads, the list goes on.
- Head to the woods or your garden to forage for a handful of wild garlic leaves.
- Wash them thoroughly then finely chop and toss into a bowl.
- Add 1 tbsp of finely chopped walnuts.
- Further add 1 tbsp of finely crumbled strong cheddar. (Matt uses Sussex Charmer mature cheddar).
- Pour on 200ml rapeseed oil and mix through. (Matt uses Farrington’s Mellow Yellow but olive oil will work too).
- If you are lucky enough to own a pestle and mortar then grind your solution into a finer pesto. You can pour into a jar and return to the fridge, while you marinade your lamb.
- Cover your leg of lamb (or lamb rump if you prefer) in a jar of Harissa and leave to marinade for one hour. Seal all sides of the lamb to lock in the flavour using a hot frying pan, then check oven cooking times depending on how you like your lamb/ size/ portioning. Once cooked always leave for a period of rest before serving.
- Back to the salad, gather your tomatoes, Matt’s a big fan of Nutbourne tomatoes but again use your preference. Chop into quarters, finely slice an onion and then mix through enough of your wild garlic pesto to pack in some flavour.
Finally slice your lamb and serve with the tomato and wild garlic and pesto salad – a beautiful plate for Sunday lunch.
We’d love to see how you get on foraging and creating this dish, please tag your efforts with @YoungsPubs and we’ll share on our social media channels.